City of Roanoke named Healthy Housing Change Agent

Healthy Homes Roanoke was the first city in the country this year to win the award of Change Agent in the National League of Cities’ Healthy Housing Local Action Challenge! This challenge was designed to help leaders achieve their goals of providing all residents with safe, stable, and healthy housing and to recognize cities across the country that are making major strides in these efforts. To read more, visit How Roanoke Became a Healthy Housing Change Agent.

Healthy Homes Roanoke team

Pictured: Healthy Homes Roanoke team members Megan Root, Sustainability Program Assistant; Helen Ferguson, Program Manager, Healthy Homes Roanoke; Katie Kennedy, Program Manager, Lead Safe Roanoke.

Keeping History Alive Through Housing

In the late 1800s, the historic Norwich neighborhood was a thriving industrial community with many foundries and factories. Yet in 1893, floods, fires, and even a tornado devastated the area and destroyed most of the existing buildings. The neighborhood persisted and rebuilt, with one of the first new homes being built in 1895—the home on Penn Street pictured here. 

Three years ago, the house was home to five people, spanning three generations; a grandmother, her children, and grandchildren. Due to the age of the home, it needed extensive work done. It was covered in lead paint and contained multiple home hazards. There was water intrusion from a leaking roof, causing the boards and windows to rot out. The ceiling bulged with water damage and cracked caulk covered lines on the ceiling. Blankets covered the windows to keep the heat in the home. There were no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. The family could not fix all of these issues on their own, so they reached out to multiple organizations for assistance. 

 After a holistic home assessment and work plan creation, Lead Safe Roanoke and Renovation Alliance worked collaboratively to address the needs of the home. Renovation Alliance worked to reduce the moisture and sources of mold in the home by replacing the roof. Lead Safe Roanoke reduced lead hazards by painting the home and treating the soil. The windows were replaced which not only reduced the lead paint hazards but also improved the energy efficiency of the home. Before both rehab partners left, they equipped the home with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure the family remained safe.  

Through working in the home together, Renovation Alliance and Lead Safe realized they were able to combine resources and maximize their dollars spent, allowing them to get the home the help it needed. Now the family is able to stay in their home for generations to come. 

The Norwich Neighborhood Plan states that residents pride themselves in their long and continuous ties to the neighborhood, and one such family has resided there for three generations. The core of the existing historic houses remains intact, depicting a strong image of its earlier industrial heritage. Healthy Homes Roanoke hopes to keep these residents’ vision alive, and help these families remain in their cherished homes and neighborhood.

“I would like to thank you for all the help that was given to me. The house is really old and I grew up here. A lot of the repairs that were needed I wasn’t able to afford. I’m really thankful for all the service that I was able to get. Thank you for doing a great job to make sure all the work was done correctly.”


More Than Just Rehab

Mary fumbled through her papers until she found the card for Brad, the code inspector for her area.  She prided herself on not getting rid of important papers. She had met him previously through another project related to her home. She called him and left a message that said she was having issues with her heat. 

The next day, Brad came over and shared the business card and information for Healthy Homes Roanoke. Healthy Homes and Mary connected the next day and within a couple of days, Mary’s heating issued had been assessed and a plan been developed to address her concern. Mary was connected to valuable resources to help with other needs as well through Healthy Homes Roanoke such as assistance with food, insurance, and financial counseling. Mary believes the best part of working with Healthy Homes and one of its partner agencies, Renovation Alliance, is finding people that want to help you. She can’t wait to recommend Healthy Homes Roanoke to her friends and family.

Before & After: A Family Home for Years to Come

Standing in the front yard of this home on Dale Ave, you can see the City skyline in the distance. The family here has had this view for over two decades, moving in the home in 1996. Yet the home was built in 1905, and was facing some massive issues. The children that had grown up in that home were now trying to help their mother make her home safe for her and their grandchildren who would be visiting. 

The house was covered in lead paint from floor to ceiling, with chipped pieces of paint littering the front porch. The roof was caving in, leaking and causing bad water damage throughout the house. 

The homeowner applied to Lead Safe and Renovation Alliance, and they immediately began collaborating. Lead Safe removed the lead paint, repainted the house and porch, and gave them all new windows. Renovation Alliance worked within Historic Preservation Guidelines to maintain the historic integrity of the property while repairing the roof. 

It is a common dream to keep your childhood home in your family through generations. Through this work, the matriarch of the family was able to make her home safe for her children and grandchildren, and keep the home in the family for many years to come. 

“This project was greatly needed and truly invaluable to my family. Everyone was very helpful and kind. Without this help we may have had to sell our home. A huge thanks from my family to yours.”